Friday, February 7, 2014

Dat Glass: How Google's New Optical Tech Could Reshape Intimacy

It wouldn't be a totally sweeping generalization to say that humans have had sex since the beginning of history. In fact, humans had been doing that long before the notion of recording a history was ever conceived. The methods of accomplishing this type of intimacy have generally not undergone any sort of paradigm-shifting changes in the last several centuries, and while social and cultural perceptions surrounding the act have certainly vacillated throughout history, the actual facts of the sexual matter have largely stayed the same. Until now...

Google has developed a new model of computer which seeks ubiquity in the user's perception. Dubbed Google Glass, the new technology provides the user with smartphone-esque internet capability via eyewear headset. It is essentially a pair of glasses that projects information, apps, and internet functions onto a very thinly opaque surface interposed onto whatever the user happens to be seeing. This allows for multiple fields of view to enter a person's visual spectrum, enabling the user to see multiple layers of information simultaneously.

Although the project is the brainchild of an entire team of people, it's not entirely difficult to trace the roots of an American technocratic desire for this kind of technology. According to recent reports, the NYPD has attained several trial models for possible application in law enforcement capacities. Yet even aside from matters of practical utility, isn't a subtle desire of most technologically-inclined Americans to someday be able to access a ubiquitous computer? The increasing rate of smartphones and cell phones as a pervasive phenomenon attests at least in part to this often unspoken trend. In our cultural notions of the future, aren't people oftentimes able to access computers more readily and with greater ease? How many of us fondly envision a future in which we're able to check email accounts or Facebook while staring off at the beach? During lectures? ...during sex?

Apparently many people have had this thought. A new app developed by students at Central St Martin enables Google Glass users to sync their individual visions to be able to see exactly what the other person is seeing. "Sex with Glass" intends for linked-up users to be able to engage in the act of intimacy while being able to observe it from multiple vantage points. By modifying the possibility of voyeurism above and beyond anything previously imagined, this technology could introduce a fundamental shift in the human approach to sexuality. This is not to say that it will-- rather, it suggests the potential of a new way of perceiving a universal phenomenon that could force our culture to re-evaluate its understanding of interpersonal intimacy. Is it going too far? Or is this simply a natural permutation of technological innovation? I'm not saying that the answers to these questions are simple, nor that they exist to begin with. I'm saying that the need to ask these questions at all suggests that even the mere idea of "Sex with Glass" introduces a new mode of thinking functionally about something that's remained actually and physically static for the majority of human history. And that seems pretty creative.

The ramifications of this new way of thinking are as diverse in method as they are in individuality. If this app disgusts a particular individual, it may serve to better articulate their own conception of what sexuality is and should be. If this app does succeed in instrumentally changing the human experience, then psychological and sociological approaches to sexuality would have to be modified to keep up. Psychoanalysts would have a field day. Regardless of any changes the new technology erects, it forces people to critically think about something fundamental to the human experience in a different way. Is this not what Picasso achieved with Cubism, or Freud with Psychoanalysis? 

Kaufman and Beghetto's "Four C Model of Creativity" would be entirely subsumed by this paradigmatic shift. Whether it's a personal interpretation of experience, banal everyday creativity, professional creativity, or eminent creativity, a new approach to a universal underlying experience expresses every type of creativity--even if only tangentially--because that experience is a linchpin of how we do almost everything. Am I getting too Freudian? Still, I think it's fair to say that a fundamental change in human sexuality would mean at least a minor change in most facets of personal interactions. 

Don't get too excited, though. A new pair of Google Glass shades will run you upwards of $1500. And you have to sign up and be eligible for Google's Glass Explorer program. That said, the first home computers cost the equivalent of something like $7000 in 1981. And whatever happened to those?

1 comment:

  1. I think Google needs to re-think how they market a product the company hopes will one day become a flagship device. Incorporating technology into a nuance that permeates so much of who we are both culturally, and to ourselves, is a risky endeavor. Sex should be a natural, carefree experience satisfying an inherent desire that, well, only sex can satisfy. You are at your most vulnerable during this time, and, its participants are so…connected. I believe that Glass technology would interrupt that physical rhythm which is so important for a meaningful, fulfilling (no pun intended) experience. I for one, have always been put off by the idea of being filmed while having sex, and I do not think I am alone in this mindset.


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